Foreign language program in high school to support BPO industry

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/7 Sept) – The Special Program in Foreign Language (SPFL) for secondary education will support business process outsourcing (BPO) industries in developing potential workforce, especially for contact centers that require competence in foreign languages.

Susana Teresita B. Estigoy, regional director of the Department of Education (DepEd-11), said
in a press conference Tuesday the program initially offers Spanish but will eventually open for Japanese, French, German and Chinese languages.

She said Spanish language plays a very important role in the history of the country, although Chinese also shares similar importance, specifically in terms of business.

Lawyer Sam Matunog, president of the Davao Software Industry, Inc., said there is a huge demand for foreign language speakers, especially for call center agents, but the industry lacks human resource that has proficiency in those languages.

Janette Velosom, secondary education program supervisor of DepEd-11, said high school graduates who passed the program will have an advantage of being employed in the BPO industry.

She said the SPFL will develop students’ fundamental communication skills in a foreign language apart from English “to prepare them for meaningful interaction in a linguistically diverse global workplace.”

Junior and senior high school students will undergo SPFL as a subject, replacing the Career Pathways Technology Livelihood (CPTLE).

A school may apply for SPFL to DepEd as long as its students have shown competence in English and are capable of learning another foreign language, Velosom said.

If a school is qualified to implement the program, she added, DepEd will provide funding for materials and training for teachers.

Also aiming to develop understanding and appreciation of other people’s culture among students, the SPFL has been pilot-tested in seven schools in the region for the Spanish language students since 2009.

The SPFL was first piloted at the Davao City Special School (DCSS) in the school year 2009-2010, then Davao City National High School (DCNHS), Tagum City National High School (TCNHS), and Digos City National High School in school year 2010-2011.

Three schools adopted the program in this school year, namely, F. Bangoy National High School (FBNHS), Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School (DRANHS) and Mintal Comprehensive High School (MCHS).

Having two SPFL classes with 35 students each, the pilot schools were selected by DepEd according to certain criteria.

Public secondary schools must have the highest mean percentage score in English in the whole region to be chosen as pilot schools, Velosom said.

A pilot school can provide substitute teachers who will take over the classes of the two teachers while on training, and has available classrooms and support facilities and equipment such as a computer laboratory with at least 10 computers with headsets to support speech lessons.

Teachers for SPFL must at least possess a bachelor’s degree in English, has been a permanent teacher for at least three years, has a performance rating of very satisfactory or better, and not more than 60 years old.

Velosom said as of this year, SPFL has 25 graduates whose are pursuing journalism and English degree courses. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)